So, you cheated on your boyfriend. You’re probably freaking out and wondering what to do next. Cheating is very damaging to almost any relationship it affects. Even so, there are ways to move past cheating and onto a happy life. Here’s what to do if you cheated.
Why People Cheat In Relationships
We all know that people cheat, but when it comes to why sometimes we don’t dig as deep as we should. Whether we’ve been cheated on or are comforting someone who was, it’s easy to think that a cheater is just a bad person or the person who was cheated on is an unfulfilling partner. The reality is usually very different. A 2020 study shed some light on why people really cheat. And, the reasons aren’t what you might expect. Here are five common reasons why people cheat.
In our society, there’s a feeling that a person whose partner cheated on them did something wrong or isn’t fulfilling enough in some way. While this is a possibility, more often than not, it’s not a reflection of how the cheater feels about their partner or even the person they cheat with. Rather, a cheater’s choice to cheat often has more to do with how they feel about themselves. If someone’s self-esteem is suffering for one reason or another, they may seek validation and attention from someone else.
Neglect Or Lack Of Love
According to Scientific American, “Though most cheating involves sex, it is rarely just about the sex itself. Most participants [in the study] felt some form of emotional attachment to their affair partner, but it was significantly more common in those who reported suffering from neglect or lack of love in their primary relationship.” Seeking sex from someone else may be an indication that what you were really seeking is an intimacy that you’re otherwise lacking. If you feel neglected by your partner, you may seek attention from someone else. Often your partner may not realize that they’re neglecting you or that you need more attention. This is why communicating how you’re feeling in your relationship is so important.
Sometimes when someone cheats, it’s not that complicated. They’re either someone who yearns for variety in their sex life, or they’re simply overcome with desire for someone else. If this is what caused you to cheat, it’s important to consider whether monogamy is right for you. There are other kinds of relationships that are better suited for folks who need variety in their romantic life. If you were simply overcome with desire for another person, consider what it is about your dynamic with this person that caused you to lose sight of your commitment to your partner.
While it’s not the first reason that comes to mind when considering why people cheat, many people cheat, because they’re harboring anger toward their partner. If you feel that your partner has wronged you, you might find yourself cheating in order to get revenge. Cheaters may even have resentment toward their partner for more subtle reasons, like not moving the relationship forward or being controlling.
Situation Or Circumstance
Sometimes a unique situation arises that causes someone to cheat. According to the study, cheaters usually cheated because of the circumstance were less likely to cheat out in the open, because they often planned on returning to their partner without getting caught. If a circumstance arose that made you feel uncharacteristically compelled to cheat, consider why you felt you couldn’t say no.
The reason behind the affair is almost as important as the fact that the affair happened, at all. According to the study, whether their affair ended the participants’ relationship had a lot to do with what motivated it. Cheating was more likely to end a relationship when it arose from anger, lack of love, low commitment, or neglect.
What To Do After Cheating On Your Boyfriend
It’s like the old saying: breaking trust in your relationship is like crumpling up a piece of paper. You can try to flatten it out again, but it will never be good-as-new. Once you’ve cheated, there’s no undoing it. Even if it’s tempting, in the present moment, pretending it didn’t happen or hiding it will leave you regretting it down the road. It may seem like all hope is lost, but in reality, cheating can help you discover issues in your relationship and find ways to solve them. Every struggle and conflict is an opportunity to learn and grow as a couple. While cheating is definitely not an acceptable course of action, it can help you evaluate how to move forward and improve your relationship.
Identify Why You Cheated.
Now we know that there are many reasons why people cheat. Just because you know the reasons other people cheat doesn’t mean you’re clear on why you cheated. Identifying why you cheated may require some introspection and will definitely rely on self-awareness. Understanding why you cheated is the first step to coming to terms with what happened and how you are going to move forward. If you’re struggling with this, talking it out with a therapist or even a trusted family member or friend can help you process your emotions.
Take Responsibility And Listen
Your partner is likely to need a lot of care and reassurance at this time. Listen to them as they identify and express their needs. Be clear about where you stand with your relationship and why you’ve found yourself in this position. Make sure that you understand the scope of what you’ve done and why repeating it is out of the question. Help your partner understand that you take responsibility for what happened. Be understanding and open to their thoughts and feelings when they’re ready to express them.
Don’t Fear Time Apart
There’s a good chance that both you and your partner will be afraid of the relationship ending at this time. The truth is that when tensions are high, it’s not always the best time to process your emotions together. Don’t fear taking time to yourselves to calm down and think about where you stand. According to Nawal Alomari, a licensed clinical professional counselor, “It’s like getting hired for a job that you know you’re not going to do well.” She told Bustle, “Why run yourself through the dirt? Take time to develop your skills romantically.” Even if you choose not to take a real “break,” don’t put pressure on yourself or your partner to get over things quickly. Give yourselves space to heal, talk through things, and process.
Check In On Yourself And Your Partner
We all know that communication is one of the most important ingredients for a successful relationship. It’s also the key to getting through trust issues. Make sure to make a point of staying aware of what you’re feeling like the relationship dynamic shifts. You should also consistently check in on your partner to see how they’re feeling. Sexologist, Jess O’Reilly, even recommends having monthly check-ins to make sure you both have opportunities to share how you’re feeling without being in the middle of an argument.
When you hear “couples therapy,” you probably think of a couple who’s been married for years. In reality, couples therapy can benefit any and every couple. It will also be beneficial for you and your partner to attend therapy on your own to get a grasp of what’s going on.
Can Relationships Recover After Cheating?
Cheating changes your relationship dynamic, and it can be difficult and sometimes impossible to get it back to a place that satisfies you both. Still, just because bouncing back takes work and commitment, it’s not an impossible feat. Some relationships can persevere, and overcoming difficult periods in your relationship can be the key to building long-lasting love. (Just look at how Beyoncé bounced back after Lemonade!).
As painful as it may be, cheating may be an indication that the relationship has run its course. If you and your partner both decide to move forward together, it’s time to get to work repairing your dynamic. You should start by cutting off contact with the person you cheated with. You may want to take it a step further and block them on social media. With this, you’ll need to make a promise to your partner and yourself that you won’t repeat what happened. As you navigate repairing your relationship, don’t be afraid to go to therapy or try new things. The most important part of moving forward is identifying what you both want and being open and honest about everything.